One of the key signs of a successful business, or at least a business that has reached some level of success, is a forklift. This is because a forklift is a piece of equipment that does not make any money. Most of the time when a business buys a forklift it is because spending the tens of thousands it costs to buy one is cheaper than continuing to move whatever they were moving some other way. This requires a certain degree of business activity and funding. There are, however, many choices in forklifts and it can be disorienting trying to choose one.
Why are you looking for a forklift in the first place? For many business users it is simply a matter of it being cheaper than the alternatives of having a liftgate on a truck. Liftgate fees are becoming the norm and as a result, the cost of deliveries is being raised. This means that for many companies the cost per ltl delivery has gone up by over a hundred dollars per shipment. This can make a big difference in the monthly expenses a small company faces. There are also safety reasons. Although forklifts do have their dangers, moving heavy materials by hand can also lead to injury.
Space can be another issue. For some the simple ability to store pallets becomes a problem. This can be overcome with a pallet stacker. These vary in expense and functionality but they enable companies to use vertical storage with pallets for only a few thousand dollars typically. They are cumbersome to use and cannot be used to unload vehicles. They are a good match for small businesses who do not move pallets up and down off pallet racks often. It is important to understand that even under the best of circumstances they tend to be very difficult to use. This is because they require you to push them around. I have found that this task is difficult for everyone, even the strongest people.
Some companies have specialized needs. Some forklifts, often called crabbing forklifts, enable you to change the driving direction. This enables you to move sideways in the same way you can move forward. This is extremely useful for companies that load and unload long items. You can retrieve the item from the front, but then travel sideways. This saves considerable warehouse space and improves safety. The space savings of these forklift designs can offset the costs of additional warehouse space.
Where the forklift is going to be used should play a big part in the decision making process. If the forklift is only going to be used in a warehouse, then you should buy a forklift optimized for that setting. Likewise, if you have a forklift that is going to be operating inside and outside, there are a different set of choices that you should make. This often revolves around the wheel size and type. This can also extend into choosing a radically different forklift type, such as a telehandler, which specializes in moving material on rough terrain.
The last thing to think about is whether to buy a new or used forklift. This is much like buying a new or used car. The problem is that unlike cars, you probably don’t know how to tell whether a forklift is good or not. Likewise your ability to have your forklift repaired is also much more limited. Typically there is a single distributor in your area which supplies you parts and service. This means that you will have few choices for where to go. You may only be able to get your forklift serviced by the people who sold it to you! For this reason consider buying a new forklift. Due to the limited number of dealers, you will typically find that there are only a few brands to choose from that match your particular market segment.